Monday, April 27, 2020

Matchstick horse made from a mould.

This horse was cast in bronze and the fibreglass mould used to make the wax form I used again to build a horse from matchsticks. This horse based in a playmobile toy horse has a lot of history at this stage. Many years ago I made an original starting with chuncks of wood covered in plaster and finished in matches. 

Using the fibreglass mould I soaked the matches first in water and pressed them into the parts of the mould. I began spending more time in the studio in September 2015 when I started working for an academy rather than as an auxiliary teacher. This gave me a bit more free time and projects like this little horse were to get me engaging again and hanging out in the workshop.I was basically using whatever materials I had at my disposal.

I soaked this thin skin of matches in watered down wood glue several times until I felt it was sufficiently strong and bit by bit the form came together. I would go to Tabacalera in the mornings before my classes begun for two or three hours. I have good disipline although sometimes the transition from the workshop to a noisy classroom were you are the manager and composer of a small orchestra could be very straining. 

As the different parts of the skin were completed I began to put the fibreglass mould together In the very same way that I had made the wax form originally for the foundry. Instead of melting wax and pouring it into the mould I poured diluted wood glue many times at different stages. I had to take it back out of the mould then and bond it together with fabric and plaster mix. 

After this I sanded and filled the exterior of the horse form before putting back into the fibreglass mould and pouring a mixture of resin and marble powder down the hollow legs of the horse to both strenghten and give more weight and substance to the sculpture. 

The cast aluminium saddle was the only externally fabricated piece of the sculpture and the undernmeath was fitted with leather so it would ¨KEY´ well to the matchstick form. i stained the wood a little with oils and liquin. This will eventually be part of a pair alond with a series of illustrations explaining the origin of the idea. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

This must be the place 2018

For a long time now I wanted to exhibit some large sculptures some of which were not entirely finished but that didn't matter because nothing was for sale it was more just to put on an event here in this space known as sala de jeffes (rooms of the bosses). In the past this was the administration area of the tobacco company and for me int´s the most interesting architecturally. 

The tiled floor is still pristeen and the door frames and fan windows create an atmosphere reminisicant for me of Argentina in the 1940s, I don´t know why since I have never even been there. I wanted to show pieces that complimented the space, the larger sculptures which are comprised of smaller forms making up the entire work fitted in well. 

This is not traditionally an exhibition space and it's the first time large sculptures have been exhibitied here for these reasons I also showed illustrations mapping out the process in which the pieces were made. The works were created and changed over many years before getting to a stage that I was happy with.

I showed sketch book animations that I had made exhibiting them on a small DVD screen inside a replica of my family home in pebbledash 1:75. I held a small opening and a few mates played some music, good fun.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Inspired by 1983

A number of years ago now I started using thorns in drawings, it started as an association for me to sacrifice or endurance of some sort. This symbolisim was usually sown in with my family home where the cubic object of the house represents a collective of people. In this sculpture I imagined a form walking always forward in a blind belief in something showing the scares of sacrifice on it´s elevated thorn branch legs and somewhat shabby exterior, like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of Terminator 2.

To me materials are also part of the narrative especially the poured concrete, it's something I associate to the 1970's and 80's it seemed to be omnipresent. The post modern architecture in all it's beauty and brutality mixed with the oil crises of the seventies and the recession of the eighties.Strangely I now have a fondness for theses things I hated and that depressed me then I now see the great diversity, functionality and aesthetic of theses buildings and houses from those decades. 

With some sculptures I used just the thorns this idea came to me after making a little piece for the SWAB art fair in Barcelona in 2013. Each artist was given an indentical 8" toy which they had to decorate in some , put their stamp on it so to speak.

I thouht of an electric bear like the old cartoons when the character gets a shock. I liked the contrary nature of the bear also , we feel a toy bear should be soft and cuddly but this is the opposite hard and abrasive. Texture is really important to me in sculptures often more important than the form. I want a piece to draw the viewer into the work to contemplate and investigate the sculpture further, to scrutinize the piece and for this reason the thorns as a medium really caught me.

My work is physical trial and error and the majority of what I have made I have thrown away or kept for many years returning to it again and again in an attempt to get to that stage where I feel it´s complete. After trying many times to use this material in a work I came back to the year 1983. I remembered we would go to the scout meetings in Rathmines and after to the chipper and if you could afford it play space invaders. 

Generally speaking 1983 for me was rarely space invaders, it was a dull and depressing year of Northern Ireland television and strikes, gray days and bustops in Monahon on the way to Belfast or Derry. 

The mounting tension over the last six or seven years in Spain about Catalonia brought back recollections of the north, the tribalism and tension in the air. Obviously I  don't believe in a way, shape or form the situation here  will ever get to the same level as the 'Troubles' in Ireland. For five years my wife and a group of friends went to the Pimavera Music Festival in Barcelona from 2011 until 2016 and I noticed every year that there were more and more flags either Catalan or Spanish hanging out of windows or balconies. 

Truthfully it made me feel a bit sick in my stomach, in my experience whenever you begin to see more national flags it's bad news,very rarely it's a genuine celebration of the flag itself not when it represents a country. It's a way of marking your territory. 

Resin blastic bullet with the same dimensions as the real thing - 2015

Getting back to the year 1983, I remember for a long time in the drawer below the cutlery drawer in the kitchen there was a rubber bullet which had writing on it in a Celtic style. I 
can´t remember all that it said but the beginning was ´This bullet bullet was fired on the streets of Derry in 1971 something, something... it struck that it was just lying around there for years. It´s origin in violence wrapped in stories of suffering and then knocking around the drawer with batteries,lighters, clothes pegs, some change etc.. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

ARCO 2019 - Madrid

This was one of the artists that stuck out for me at the ARCO 2019 art Fair for his painterly style and humour. It reminded of the the Irish artist Neven La Hart due to the subject matter and also the confidence in the brush strokes. Maybe made to look quite 'on edge ' the strokes mirror the mindset of the perculiar character a Trunckman ill at ease with his own existence maybe? Leading to a deluge of toxicology and comfort seeking or maybe not?

As Armen Eloyan has said himself ´a good painting is putting together a good joke´

His absurd narratives are darlky existential compositions of anthropomorphic animals and figures. Although the colour pallet is distinctly different there is a motif similar to the late works of Philip Guston´s STUDIO paintings on 1969.

Philip Guston - Painting , smoking eating 1969.

At ARCO last year I was just picking out a few artist from the many and for the more accessible, well for me anyway. At these big a art fairs you always have the big names that exhibit their typical BRAND of art a lot of which is very similar but I have to say I still really like like Jeff Koons or Julian Opie. But looking beyond the name I was looking for stuff that was both visually arresting and contemplative. 

Victor Jaenada 1977- present

Jaenada is a Spanish/ Catalan artist based in Barcelona.This single piece of work that the artist had made directly onto the wall of the exhibition space was striking and seemingly simple. Jaenada has adopted a romantic – punk attitude to his work. It´s romantic in it´s attempts to process transendental themes and punk in its immediacy The lasting impression from his work is something solid. 

Stephen Balkenhol - 1957- present

The pieces I have seen from Stephen Balkenhol over the past number of years at ARCO have always appealed to me. It´s a physical experience and appreciation. He uses soft woods such as Douglas fir and poplar and this along with the painted element adds a freshness and POP ART style to his work while managing similtaneously to reflect folk or primitive art.His work is very reminiscant of the Irish sculptor Janet Mullarney in that it holds a shamenistic sense or maybe this is due to the materials used and the nieve style of the works.

Lin May Saeed is a Iraqi / German artist based in Frankfurt whose works  meander around the relationships between animals and us or the natural and ourselves. The majority of her sculptures are comprised of styrafoam and paint. The works normally in relief depict visual narratives of fantasy like animals in tales of these relationships torn and separated.

Monday, March 30, 2020

2nd part of making the stone piece

In Spanish art there is a strong use of colour than I believe you don´t see so much of in  Irish painters and sculptors.The light in Madrid makes me want to use more poppy colours like  lemon yellow which works well with the sandstone. Last March we went to the Thyssen with a few friends to look at the permanent collection and I saw these Romanic ..... sculptures in stone. I think they have a great immediacy to them , something very contemporary about paintimg a type of gloss enamel onto stone although they´re almost eight hundred years old. 

I have been trying out a few different colours but keeping a limited palette, I tried staining the sandstone a little with sculpting clay but in the end I washed it off again.I have already painted the flowers white a few times with gouach and again  washed it off. I'll get there eventually. In the end I just added a strip of lemon yellow on the sides of the stone slabs. 

The center and two outer parts of the sculpture are clear cast resin with bird shaped aluminium forms and beach stones embedded in side. Again thees resin pieces involve a lot of sanding and polishing and are finally mounted on a wooden support structure and pinned into place by wooden dowls. 

I bought the cut stone slabs a million years ago in Kilkenny for another piece of work that I ended up completing in wax and another addition in poured concrete. But this design was the original idea for the stone pieces, I just didn´t have the experience to carve the form at the time. Over the years here in Madrid and a practice run in plaster gave me enough time and effort to eventually complete this work. although at the this moment the work is not not completely finished. It won´t take much to finish it but there are still a few rough spots. 

Untitled - Dimensions   (H x W x D) 107 x 153 x 24 

 Medium   - sandstone, clear resin,wood & objects.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Everyday is like Sunday - remade 2019

I completed this piece for an art fair in Barcelona in 2013 where I was exhibiting through the German gallery called Marc De Coen.

I was very happy with the finish of the piece but I felt it was too heavy looking and flat in appearance. Still it was a really accomplished piece of work which took several experiments and attempts to get to a completion stage. The sanding and polishing of such a piece is exceptionally laborious and took I don't remember how long to do and that's not to mention the cost of materials. So for these reasons I was very apprenhensive about altering it in any way.

I had exhibited this work in Germany, Spain and in Ireland at The RHA Annual exhibition after which I loaned it to the Dean Hotel on Harcourt street. The piece was returned to Madrid in basically two pieces. I almost had a feckin heart attack when I opened the wooden box on it's arrival to Madrid. I had nobody else to blame but myself since I was the one who had wrapped the piece in hast before I left Dublin.

Somewhere on it´s transit to Madrid the box had been dropped and the dense heavy weight of the cast resin fractured. It had split from top to bottom but fortunately the break was extremely straight. After a period of time I drew up some sketches and then just went at it with the angle grider and a stone cutting disk diamater 16 inch.

Somewhere on it´s transit to Madrid the box had been dropped and the dense heavy weight of the cast resin fractured. It had split from top to bottom but fortunately the break was extremely straight. After a period of time I drew up some sketches and then just went at it with the angle grider and a stone cutting disk diamater 16 inch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Nostalgia - Nutgrove

Nostalgia /

Definition - The notion of returning home from the greek word Nostras suggest a returning and also sadness.


When I think of the brave project undertaken by the New Irish Free State between 1941-67 building 180,000 council houses a standard bloc consisting of a graden front and back and giving people the primary need i.e. A roof over their heads. It was functional and necessary and while it´s systematic manner may have dampened individuals dreams the state worked and provided these basic needs.

 Title - I believe in (2015) - Sculpture in matches , wood and airfix paint .16 inches squared more or less a model of my family home scale 1/50 

Well I don´t know if it dampened people dreams or if that was just the amount of bare concrete and lack of greenery. It was funny though because once you left the estate in the direction of the Dublin mountains it was pretty much savage wilderness or meadows. Each house reflected the people that loved inside it in a manner.Like the cope in Flan O Brian´s third policeman it was almost as of molecules and atoms transferred into the walls of the houses mapping different of the inhabitants lives. 

At certain periods holding itself together through it´s belief in honest virtues and moving ever forward in a type of blind sacrifice and determination to see it through to the end whatever that may have meant. Sometimes auster through circumstance, empty and clean like a whistle. 

I did a series of drawings of the house using thorns and bandages to represent pain and suffering but in a type of slightly comical way not meaning hysterically funny but life does have a tendancy to be humerous in it´s bleakest moments usually I would say unintentionally. I gues these symbols originated from the religious backround we all grew up in the 70´and 80´s in Ireland. The goldleafed icons, the thorns of the crown and the blindfolded marter. 

But hope springs eternal because hope is life itself and as  with Schrodingers cat if we can´t see it then it doesn´t exist or we don´t exist so it´s better the Devil you know or life goes on or some other phrase or idiom. 

A show of emotion 2013 - Drawing in pencil and gouache on arches paper -